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Sussex ramps up security measures

Metal detectors to be installed in county buildings
New security measures are in the works for the county administration building on The Circle. MADDY LAURIA PHOTOS
October 7, 2017

Residents visiting the Sussex County administrative building on The Circle may notice news security measures taking place.

Officials are ramping up safety measures, with plans to soon install a magnetometer, or metal detector, to scan visitors for weapons.

County Administrator Todd Lawson said security enhancements were budgeted; the fiscal year 2018 budget includes more than $522,000 for safety and security, a nearly $65,000 increase from the previous year.

He said the entire building, from doors and cameras to new restrictions on where the public can enter and exit, will shift throughout October.

“Our intent is not to restrict movement in the building,” Lawson said. “Quite frankly, if you're not carrying any type of restricted item, you'll walk right in the building.”

Restricted items would include weapons such as brass knuckles and knives – but not guns, yet. Council is expected to discuss and review a proposed ordinance to specifically restrict openly carried firearms in the county building at its upcoming meeting at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 10.

“We are not allowed to restrict concealed carry,” Lawson said. “That's the law.”

In Delaware, any resident can openly carry firearms without a permit; Lawson said county officials are not authorized to restrict concealed carry.

County spokesman Chip Guy said there is no set timeline for the security additions, which also include updating recording and monitoring technology within the building, but he expects most improvements to be completed by the end of October.

“We have a right and obligation to ensure the safety of our employees and the people who are doing business in this public building day in and day out,” Guy said.

Lawson said the magnetometer will cost about $6,700, and that a second device also will be installed in the county's west complex. He said the enhanced security measures will bring county buildings in line with other public buildings nearby, such as the courthouse on the circle, where even cellphones are prohibited.

“That's the world we live in,” he said. “It's not just at the airport anymore. It's practically any place anyone gathers that has a lot of public traffic.”

For more information, call the county at 302-855-7700.